Dr Richard Whitaker

Associate Professor

Dr Rick WhitakerBA (Salford), MA Econ, PhD (Manchester)

Contact details

Personal details

BA (Salford), MA Econ, PhD (Manchester)

My main research interests concern two areas: the study of legislatures, and British parties and European integration. On the first of these, my work so far has focused principally on the European Parliament and its internal organisation, specifically committees, party groups and national parties. I am also working on parliamentary oversight of coalition governance at Westminster. On the second area, with Adam Cygan and Philip Lynch, I have worked on an ESRC-funded project on Parties, Parliament and the Brexit process. This project forms part of the ESRC's UK in a Changing Europe programme. In the past, with Philip Lynch I have also worked on a Leverhulme-funded project on party competition on the centre-right and have previously researched the Conservatives in the European Parliament. I am a member of the School's research cluster on Parties, Participation and Public Opinion (3PO).


I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

My teaching, past and present, covers the following areas:

  • The Westminster Parliament
  • European Union institutions and policy-making
  • Comparative legislatures
  • Comparative politics in general
  • Research methods in political science


Recent Publications


Rick Whitaker: The European Parliament's Committees book cover (2011) The European Parliament's committees: National party influence and legislative empowerment, London: Routledge. Replication data

Recent Journal Articles and Chapters


Current research

Parties, Parliament and the Brexit Process

This study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (with Adam Cygan and Philip Lynch) focuses on how the Brexit vote has affected UK party politics, how Parliament has responded to Brexit in terms of its structures and procedures and attempts to identify those areas of policy that have been most subject to conflict between and within parties and are most likely to change once the UK has left the EU.

MEPs in the 2014-19 European Parliament: the rise of Euroscepticism?

This study (funded by a Leverhulme Research Project Grant of £56,399, co-investigator Professor Simon Hix - London School of Economics) began in October 2014. The research assesses the range of views represented in the European Parliament, changes in mainstream Members of the European Parliaments’ (MEPs) views over time, MEPs’ attitudes to democracy in the EU and the UK’s future relationship with the EU. It is based on a survey of MEPs, which will add to a time series of survey data collected by the European Parliament Research Group. The data are available at our dedicated website here.

Recent Research Activities

I was a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University's School of Politics and International Relations during March 2019, working on a project on MEPs' careers with Professor Patrick Dumont. I will be presenting papers on patterns of parliamentary questions among opposition MPs, select committees and Brexit, and MEPs' roles in the coming months.

PhD Supervision

My main research interests concern two areas: the study of legislatures, and British centre-right parties and European integration. Plans for future research include work on Eurosceptics in the European Parliament and the success or otherwise of Euroscepticism more broadly. I would be keen to supervise projects on the European Parliament, the Westminster Parliament, comparative legislatures (particularly committees and parties in legislatures), and Eurosceptic political parties.

I have supervised the following students to completion:

  • Andrew Jones (July 2020), Managing coalition government in an upper house: testing the 'keeping tabs' theory in the House of Lords 2010-15.
  • Ana Carrillo-Lopez (May 2018), European identity and voting in the European Parliament Elections: The Effect of Transnationalism in post-crisis EU.
  • Laura MacKenzie (November 2017), Participation in the European Parliament: Populist Parties and Rapporteurships.
  • Berta Barbet Porta (May 2016), Issues, party strategies and voter behaviour: A dynamic approach.
  • Peter Thomas (December 2013),The politicisation of immigration by the centre-right in the UK and France, 2000-2010.

I was second supervisor to Tim Sansom who completed his thesis on 'Political Marketing: The Conservatives in Opposition' in 2009, to Carol Weaver who completed a thesis on US-Russian tensions and EU policy in the Black Sea region in 2011 and to Mukhtar Hajizada who was awarded his PhD in December 2012 on 'Complex regionalisation in the wider Black Sea area'.

Learn more and apply for research degrees in Politics and International Relations.

PhD Examination

I have acted as external examiner for PhD theses by David Marshall (LSE), Ana-Iuliana Postu (Royal Holloway), Amy Busby (Sussex), Einion Dafydd (Aberystwyth), Fiona Williams (Nottingham), Jack Blumenau (LSE), David Alexander (Glasgow), Robert Van Geffen (LSE) and Margherita de Candia (King's College, London).

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School of Politics and International Relations

University of Leicester
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United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2702
Email: HyPIR@le.ac.uk


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The Masters Excellence Studentships are available to new UK/EU applicants registering for a full- or part-time, campus-based Masters degree in our College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities starting in the 2020-21 academic year. Four nine-month Masters Excellence studentships are available, each providing a full fee waiver. The deadline for applications is 29 May 2020.

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